Reading is a key skill for deaf children to develop, as our world is driven by information. Think about it – your child and their peers will grow up with email, texting, computer tools, captioned TV, DVDs and online video clips.
As this website noted recently, digital tools like email, webtext, Skype, video relay or chat, can be used regardless of a learner’s communication method.
Literacy is the common factor in these examples – basic literacy to access the information, followed by digital literacy for using technology tools.
Parents may be wondering at this stage, how does my child learn to read?
The answer is by looking at books with your child, from the earliest age possible. Fabric and cloth books, padded cot murals and buggy or bath books are ideal. They also lead your child to make their first item-and-word link, a big milestone for any baby especially when hearing issues are involved.
Even looking at pictures in the books helps. Try matching items in books, to items in your vicinity, for example a picture of a dog, with a real dog, or a stuffed dog. Or point to the dog in the book, and then to a dog on a poster or picture in the room. Show the child collars on the dogs, or other “like” traits in the pictures to teach the concepts of ‘matching’ and ‘similar’.
Name the items as you go, then follow up by reading a book on the same topic (eg, a simple story about a dog) to introduce new language structures. Keep to one topic at a time – the dog in this example – to reinforce the themes. Above all, remember to slow down! Children learn at a slower pace than adults when new concepts are being introduced or reinforced.
This basic teaching model can be used to develop your child’s vocabulary at home, at preschool, when out and about, or at friends’ and relatives’ houses.